Friday, December 25, 2015
Bond Watch: Dr. No (1962)
It's been so long since I've seen Dr. No (1962), and I remembered so little of it, that I'm calling this the first time I've seen the movie. I remembered a few things from the movie - the look of Dr. No, Ursula Andress and Quarrel, the local fellow who rightfully does not want to get all that mixed up in Bond's adventures.
For good or ill (for you people), Jamie's Christmas gift to me was a 2012 boxed set of "50 Years of Bond", so, yes, I now have every single Bond movie on BluRay, so you can probably expect we'll be looking at a lot of Bond over the next few months.
The timing isn't entirely coincidental (I just asked for confirmation on this). Jamie ordered the set partially because (a) she knows I've always liked Bond, and I've become more interested in Bond in recent years and (b) I was reading the books. Also, Jamie (almost) always likes Bond, so it's not like I need to wait for her to go to bed to put one of these movies on.
It was incredibly interesting to see a Bond so close to the two books I recently read, the first two novels Casino Royale and Live and Let Die, as this is the first Bond movie produced by the Broccolis. He doesn't have any gadgets, characters from the books pop up left and right (Leiter, Strangeways, Quarrel), and it's all pretty straight-forward at this point. As struck me with the novel of Live and Let Die, the set-up is interesting, the locations exotic. But it doesn't seem like there's anything much more than showing up and looking around that Bond is up to. And the villains' super-schemes aren't yet written for traps within traps, all working the hero's way to the Big Boss fight.
After introducing Bond, M, Moneypenny and getting Bond some lady-attention, the movie has Bond dispatched to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of Strangeways (a human person's name), a British agent living in Kingston. There's some thinking that someone, somehow is taking out US Rockets launched from Florida, and Strangeways' investigations and into this, and his disappearance, may all be wrapped together. The inquiry leads to Bond triangulating a bit until he realizes the forbidden island of Crab Cay, a bauxite mining operation, could hold the key.
This movie does deviate from the first two Bond novels I've read by having the villain up to no good with some super-science. It's all a bit Scorpio and informs any number of future cultural threads, not the least of which is that the bad guys all clearly inspired the Marvel villainous organization, AIM (Marvel also re-launched to become what you think of as Marvel in 1962 with the arrival of Fantastic Four #1).
Clearly the Broccolis were no prudes and their Bond is the hyper-virile lady-killer we all think of today but who hasn't really shown his face in a movie in quite some time. But Bond can't even catch his flight to start his mission without sleeping with a socialite first. Our Bond Girl Alpha of the film is Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, who is there to mostly be a distraction and play the damsel in distress. And, she's sort of the standard by which, I suppose, Bond Girls are still measured. The bathing suit scene is still, of course, a go-to clip for all Bond retrospectives and Halle Berry made a heroic effort to topple Andress from her pedestal, but the movie itself wasn't able to carry her.
As a first Bond movie, it totally makes sense. This thing started a whole new era in movies, not just for Bond but in action heroes. We're still working in the wake of this movie and what would follow. Heck, when Dr. No reveals himself and throws out the name SPECTRE, we're still enjoying that reveal in 2015 (even if SPECTRE replaced the real-life SMERSH - a KGB outfit - in the movies as a more generic super-villainous organization).
The movie is simple by Bond standards, but as a fan of From Russia With Love, I'm looking forward to the leap between the two films.
As a special bonus, I had no recollection that Jack Lord played Felix Leiter in the film, but, yup. That's Jack Lord, sure as shooting.